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Boeing plans to assemble Chinook or Apache choppers in India; may manufacture fighter jets too

New Delhi(PTI): American aviation giant Boeing on Friday said it plans to assemble either its Chinook heavy-lift helicopters or Apache attack choppers in India even as it gears to offer the possibility of manufacturing a fighter jet aircraft in the country.

Boeing plans to assemble choppers in India; may manufacture fighter jets too

W James McNerney, Jr. Chairman, The Boeing Company speaks at “India’s Time to Fly” Aerospace Innovation Summit in New Delhi on Friday.

“We are much closer to have assembly (of) one of those airplanes (choppers) here. That will play out and that’s our strategy. This market is too important, capability is too high and commitment is significant and that kind of commitment is important for us,” Boeing Chairman Jim McNerney McNerney said.

India had last month signed a contract for 15 Chinook and 22 Apache helicopters. “Large sections of the Chinook fuselage are already manufactured in India and discussions are ongoing with our Indian partners to make Apache parts,” Boeing India President Pratyush Kumar had then said.

At a seminar organised here by Boeing, McNerney hoped that India will over the next couple of years call for bids for a fighter aircraft.

“Our approach is going to be to take a current, state-of-the-art fighter and bid. The quantities are uncertain…Our bid will include a proposal to make the plane here,” he said.

“The value to India is a very modern production system integrated to make a very sophisticated machine. That kind of industrial base capability is as important as the fighter itself. These modern manufacturing techniques can go into many different industries,” he said.

Several foreign aircraft manufacturers have offered to build their fighter planes in India after the government scrapped the global tender for 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA).

While India is in talks with France for a formal agreement for off-the-shelf purchase of 36 Rafale jets (two squadrons), Indian Air Force wants at least six more MMRCA-type squadrons.

The Boeing chairman also said that on the defence side, the Indian and US governments have to decide the issue of technology sharing.

“Leaving that aside, and generally speaking, the more cutting edge the technology, then less the sharing will be,” he said even as he voiced support for ‘Make In India’.

McNerney, however, said, “Make in India is not just someone handing you a blueprint and you make it.

“It can’t be that way but I think the vision of the Prime Minister is more than that. So, I would break, at least the way I see it, Make in India down to design and make in India for India and global (market).”

He said that given the global nature of Boeing products and technology, the American firm can play a key role in Make in India initiative.

“If the politics here allows this initiative, to continue with the same momentum that it has today, for the next five years, the goal of moving the manufacturing contribution to the economy from 14 per cent to 25 per cent is achievable. The capability is here,” he said.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had said that the contract for the choppers will have a 30% offset clause and will bring in business worth about USD one billion for the Indian defence industry. He had said at least 50% of these would be direct export.

Apache is a multi-role attack helicopter. AH-64E Apache, the most modern variant also flown by the US Army, features enhanced performance, joint digital operability, improved survivability and cognitive decision aiding.
CH-47F Chinook is an advanced multi-mission helicopter operated by the US Army and 18 other defence forces.